NRL 2022: Warriors coach Nathan Brown questions execution, not commitment after dire loss to undermanned Cronulla Sharks

Coach Nathan Brown has cut a frustrated figure, after NZ Warriors' headshaking NRL capitulation against Cronulla Sharks.

Despite a one-man advantage for most of the match, after Sharks fullback Will Kennedy's clothesline tackle on Warriors star Reece Walsh in the 16th minute - as well as a 10-minute period up against just 11 players, when Jesse Ramien was sinbinned - the Warriors were still completely outplayed in a 29-10 defeat.

Floundering in the face of their overlap, they failed to make the Sharks pay, unable to build any pressure on their undermanned opponents, who became the first team since 2008 to win a game with 12 players.

Reflecting on his side's performance, Brown insists the shortcomings came from his team's inability to play clinical football, rather than a lack of onfield effort.

"I didn't think it was going to be one-way traffic," Brown said, referring to the impact of Kennedy's send-off. "They're certainly not a side that's going to lay down on anyone.

"I suspected that we’d have to work really hard to get to the front. We had a fair number of players who really tried hard today.

"We had some players who made bad decisions on the edge, but it wasn't the lack of effort - it was execution. That certainly wasn't good, but it wasn't a lack of commitment that got us into trouble."

Warriors watch on, as Shark players celebrate a try.
Warriors watch on, as Shark players celebrate a try. Photo credit: Getty Images

During the period they had a two-man advantage in the second half, the Warriors squandered field position and possession with poor options and inaccurate kicking. The space was often there for the taking, but skip passes were favoured when fundamental draw-and-pass plays would have been enough to break a scrambling Sharks defence.

In fact, the Warriors failed to register a single point during the entire second half for the fifth time this season.

"You'd like to think, if you get a shot down there, you're going to come up with something," Brown said. "We've had one or two games this year where we've looked to get some nice flow with our attack - against the Cowboys and a game earlier.

"We seem to be training well, but we’re not replicating that on the field. We have had trouble with possession, we came up with a couple of nice tries to get into the front when they had 12, but possession was a real problem for us at the back end of the first half."

Brown identified the right side of his team's defence - manned by the likes of Rocco Berry and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak - as one particular area of weakness, which the Sharks continually exploited.

"Quite clearly, our right edge had a tough day," Brown noted. "They can do a little better in and around there - there is the odd person who could do a bit better to help the right edge.

"They certainly had a tough day and the pictures will tell that to anyone who was watching.

"I was disappointed at the end of the game, when the young blokes on the left edge let in that soft try. The game was gone then, but to get to where we want to get to, you can't allow or want that to happen, but it's happened now.

"We can dust ourselves off and get going again next week."

That may prove easier said than done, after another demoralising outing, which comes just two weeks after the horrific 70-10 pounding by Melbourne Storm on Anzac Day.

They picked themselves off the canvas with their unlikely Golden Point victory over Canberra Raiders last weekend, although the dramatic nature of the win likely papered over cracks that widened against the Sharks.

"Any time you're not doing anything consistently, you've got to look at why it's not happening and, as the coach, you’ve got to look at yourself first," Brown said. "Obviously, you have a chat with the senior players.

"We are coming to the stage in the season where we need to get back to putting some wins together. We had three together then had a reasonable performance against the Roosters.

"We got what we got against Melbourne and then last week... we're a bit toing and froing. We've got a bit of hard work to do and a few good questions need to be answered, and get back into it next week."

The Warriors will have their work cut out for them against a wounded South Syndey Rabbitohs outfit, who sit one spot above them in 10th on the competition ladder.

Join us at 5pm Saturday for live updates of NZ Warriors v South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL clash